Set in a state school for the deaf, Children of a Lesser God depicts several key issues facing the hearing-impaired community. It proclaims the right of deaf individuals to determine their own role in society. James Leeds, a new speech teacher, is assigned to Sarah Norman, a twenty-six-year-old deaf woman who prefers to communicate exclusively in American Sign Language (ASL). She informs James that it is a waste of time trying to force deaf people to speak and read lips so that the deaf can pass for hearing. When James counters that ASL is only good among the deaf, Sarah accuses him of wanting to be God, wanting to make her over in his own image. Deaf students do not want to be changed simply because hearing teachers want to change them. Sarah confides that she dreams of becoming a teacher for the deaf and having deaf children. They eventually realize that they want to communicate with each other no matter what the language and decide to get married. Orin, a hearing-impaired student, tries to convince Sarah that their marriage cannot work. The schoolmaster tries to convince James that the marriage is unwise. While arguing, James catches himself trying to censor the conversation for Sarah and realizes that he has no right to decide what she can or cannot “hear.”
They are married and Sarah begins to enjoy life with her hearing husband, but Orin urges her not to turn her back on the deaf, arguing that “deaf rights” are more important than...
(The entire section is 444 words.)